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The phone in my pocket vibrated again.

It was the twenty-fifth time in twenty-


four hours. I thought about opening the phone, at least seeing who was trying to contact
me. Perhaps it was important. Maybe Carlisle needed me.
I thought about it, but I did not move.
I wasnt precisely sure where I was. Some dark attic crawl space, full of rats and
spiders. The spiders ignored me, and the rats gave me a wide berth. The air was thick
with the heavy scents of cooking oil, rancid meat, human sweat, and the nearly solid layer
of pollution that was actually visible in the humid air, like a black film over everything.
Below me, four stories of a rickety ghetto tenement teamed with life. I didnt bother to
separate the thoughts from the voicesthey made a big, loud Spanish clamor that I didnt
listen to. I just let the sounds bounce off me. Meaningless. All of it was meaningless.
My very existence was meaningless.
The whole world was meaningless.
My forehead pressed against my knees, and I wondered how much longer I would
be able to stand this. Maybe it was hopeless. Maybe, if my attempt was doomed to
failure anyway, I should stop torturing myself and just go back
The idea was so powerful, so healinglike the words contained a strong
anesthetic, washing away the mountain of pain I was buried underthat it made me gasp,
made me dizzy.
I could leave now, I could go back.
Bellas face, always behind the lids of my eyes, smiled at me.
It was a smile of welcome, of forgiveness, but it did not have the affect my
subconscious probably intended it to have.
Of course I could not go back. What was my pain, after all, in comparison to her
happiness? She should be able to smile, free from fear and danger. Free from a longing
for a soulless future. She deserved better than that. She deserved better than me. When
she left this world, she would go to a place that was forever barred to me, no matter how I
conducted myself here.
The idea of that final separation was so much more intense than the pain I already
had. My body shook with it. When Bella went on to the place where she belonged and I
never could, I would not linger here behind. There must be oblivion. There must be
relief.
That was my hope, but there were no guarantees. To sleep, perchance to dream.
Ay, theres the rub, I quoted to myself. Even when I was ash, would I somehow still feel
the torture of her loss?
I shuddered again.
And, damn it, Id promised. Id promised her that I wouldnt haunt her life again,
bring my black demons into it. I wasnt going back on my word. Couldnt I do anything
right by her? Anything at all?
The idea of returning to the cloudy little town that would always be my true home
on this planet snaked through my thoughts again.
J ust to check. J ust to see that shes well and safe and happy. Not to interfere.
She would never know I was there
No. Damn it, no.
The phone vibrated again.
Damn it, damn it, damn it, I growled.
2006 Stephenie Meyer
I could use the distraction, I supposed. I flipped the phone open and registered
the numbers with the first shock Id felt in half a year.
Why would Rosalie be calling me? She was the one person who was probably
enjoying my absence.
There must be something truly wrong if she needed to talk to me. Suddenly
worried for my family, I hit the send button.
What? I asked tensely.
Oh, wow. Edward answered the phone. I feel so honored.
As soon as I heard her tone, I knew my family was fine. She must just be bored.
It was hard to guess at her motives without her thoughts as a guide. Rosalie had never
made much sense to me. Her impulses were usually founded on the most convoluted
kinds of logic.
I snapped the phone shut.
Leave me alone, I whispered to nobody.
Of course the phone vibrated again at once.
Would she keep calling until she passed along whatever message she was
planning to annoy me with? Probably. It would take months for her to grow tired of this
game. I toyed with the idea of letting her hit redial for the next half yearand then
sighed and answered the phone again.
Get on with it.
Rosalie rushed through the words. I thought you would want to know that Alice
is in Forks.
I opened my eyes and stared at the rotten wooden beams three inches from my
face.
What? My voice was flat, emotionless.
You know how Alice isthinks she knows everything. Like you. Rosalie
chuckled humorlessly. Her voice had a nervous edge, like she was suddenly unsure about
what she was doing.
But my rage made it hard to care what Rosalies problem was.
Alice had sworn to me that she would follow my lead in regards to Bella, though
she did not agree with my decision. Shed promised that she would let Bella alonefor
as long as I did. Clearly, shed thought I would eventually fold to the pain. Maybe she
was right about that.
But I hadnt. Yet. So what was she doing in Forks? I wanted to wring her skinny
neck. Not that J asper would let me get that close to her, once he caught a whiff of the
fury blowing out of me
Are you still there, Edward?
I didnt answer. I pinched the bridge of my nose with my fingertips, wondering if
it were possible for a vampire to get a migraine.
On the other hand, if Alice had already gone back
No. No. No. No.
Id made a promised. Bella deserved a life. Id made a promise. Bella deserved
a life.
I repeated the words like a mantra, trying to clear my head of the seductive image
of Bellas dark window. The doorway to my only sanctuary.
2006 Stephenie Meyer
No doubt I would have to grovel, were I to return. I didnt mind that. I could
happily spend the next decade on my knees if I were with her.
No, no, no.
Edward? Dont you even care why Alice is there?
Not particularly.
Rosalies voice turned a trifle smug now, pleased, no doubt, that shed forced a
response from me. Well, of course, shes not exactly breaking the rules. I mean, you
only warned us to stay away from Bella, right? The rest of Forks doesnt matter.
I blinked my eyes slowly. Bella had left? My thoughts circled around the
unexpected idea. She hadnt graduated yet, so she must have returned to her mother.
That was good. She should live in sunshine. It was good that shed been able to put the
shadows behind her.
I tried to swallow, and couldnt.
Rosalie trilled a nervous laugh. So you dont need to be angry with Alice.
Then why did you call me, Rosalie, if not to get Alice in trouble? Why are you
bothering me? Ugh!
Wait! she said, sensing, rightly, that I was able to hang up again. Thats not
why I called.
Then why? Tell me quickly, and then leave me alone.
Well she hesitated.
Spit it out, Rosalie. You have ten seconds.
I think you should come home, Rosalie said in a rush. Im tired of Esme
grieving and Carlisle never laughing. You should feel ashamed at what youve done to
them. Emmett misses you all the time and its getting on my nerves. You have a family.
Grow up and think about something besides yourself.
Interesting advice, Rosalie. Let me tell you a little story about a pot and a
kettle
I am thinking about them, unlike you. Dont you care how much youve hurt
Esme, if no one else? She loves you more than the rest of us, and you know that. Come
home.
I didnt answer.
I thought once this whole Forks thing was finished, you would get over it.
Forks was never the problem, Rosalie, I said, trying to be patient. What shed
said about Esme and Carlisle had struck a chord. J ust because Bella it was hard to
say her name out loud has moved to Florida, it doesnt mean that Im able Look,
Rosalie. I really am sorry, but, trust me, it wouldnt make anyone happier if I were
there.
Um
There it was, that nervous hesitation again.
What is it that youre not telling me, Rosalie? Is Esme all right? Is Carlisle
Theyre fine. Its justwell, I didnt say that Bella moved.
I didnt speak. I ran over our conversation in my head. Yes, Rosalie had said that
Bella had moved. Shed said: you only warned us to stay away from Bella, right? The
rest of Forks doesnt matter. And then: I thought once this whole Forks thing was
finished So Bella wasnt in Forks. What did she mean, Bella hadnt moved?
2006 Stephenie Meyer
Then Rosalie was rushing through her words again, saying them almost angrily
this time.
They didnt want to tell you, but I think thats stupid. The quicker you get over
this, the sooner things can go back to normal. Why let you mope around the dark corners
of the world when theres no need for it? You can come home now. We can be a family
again. Its over.
My mind seemed to be broken. I couldnt make sense of her words. It was like
there was something very, very obvious she was telling me, but I had no idea what it was.
My brain played with the information, making strange patterns of it. Nonsensical.
Edward?
I dont understand what you are saying, Rosalie.
A long pause, the length of a few human heartbeats.
Shes dead, Edward.
A longer pause.
Imsorry. You have a right to know, though, I think. Bellathrew herself off
a cliff two days ago. Alice saw it, but it was too late to do anything. I think she would
have helped, though, broken her word, if there had been time. She went back to do what
she could for Charlie. You know how shes always cared for him
The phone went dead. It took me a few seconds to realize that Id shut the power
off.
I sat in the dusty darkness for a long, frozen space. It was like time had ended.
Like the universe had stopped.
Slowly, moving like an old man, I turned my phone back on and dialed the one
number Id promise myself I would never call again.
If it was her, I would hang up. If it was Charlie, Id get the information I needed
through subterfuge. Id prove Rosalies sick little joke wrong, and then go back to my
nothingness.
Swan residence, answered a voice Id never heard before. A mans husky
voice, deep, but still youthful.
I didnt pause to think about the implications of that.
This is Dr. Carlisle Cullen, I said, perfectly imitating my fathers voice. May I
please speak to Charlie?
Hes not here, the voice responded, and I was dimly surprised by the anger in it.
The words were almost a snarl. But that didnt matter.
Well, where is he then? I demanded, getting impatient.
There was a short pause, as if the stranger wanted to withhold the information
from me.
Hes at the funeral, the boy finally answered.
I shut the phone again.


2006 Stephenie Meyer